'Some things should be left alone': Patrick Renna on remaking cult classic 'The Sandlot'

The actor who played the character of Hamilton "Ham" Porter reminisces why the movie still resonates 25 years after it was released

                            'Some things should be left alone': Patrick Renna on remaking cult classic 'The Sandlot'
Patrick Renna (Source: IMDB)

Twenty five years ago people got to see a movie which was soon going to become a cult classic.

'The Sandlot' was more than just 8 kids coming together to play baseball every day, it was also a seminal coming of age movie that has endured despite eschewing the trappings of a "baseball movie."

There's no overarching philosophy underpinning the movie, which mostly portrays the whims and wisecracks of its 12-year-old protagonists who want to relish every moment of their games before middle school begins.

The movie made us believe that friendship and memories can be glued together by a thing as small as a baseball. No wonder characters, scenes, and lines of dialogue from the movie have remained ingrained in people's mind, even as the movie celebrated its 25th year recently.

"You're killing me Smalls!" uttered by Hamilton "Ham" Porter, still resonates till this day. And Patrick Renna, who played the role of Hamilton, shares his experience of working in the film with Meaww

Even before landing the role in the film, Boston-born Patrick knew from a very young age that he wanted to be an actor.

Uncertain of the future but focused on his goal, Patrick decided to move cities and tried to chase his dreams. One would say it was a scary move for someone so young but he knew that success is a hard muse.

"I was 13 when I moved so the decision was made for me! I definitely didn't argue though," he said. " I was pretty excited to come to LA because growing up I knew I wanted to be an actor and I knew I needed to be in LA."

Without any doubt, the decision to move places sure did pay off as he landed a role in 'The Sandlot'.

Though the cult fate of the movie was still in the future, Patrick knew that there was something special about the movie that everyone on the sets had an inkling of.

"I think we knew we were doing something special. But there was no way to know that it would become a classic," he confessed.

"Sandlot has passed on now to new generations. Not many films have that lasting power. It's gratifying to know that a film you were in means as much as it does to people."

Even though it has been 25 years since the movie first hit the screen, Patrick's memory of shooting for the movie are still alive.

While recollecting one of the funny instances from behind the scenes, Patrick could not help himself from having a laugh thinking about the scene where he and the other cast members had to play a match with another team.

"One of my favorite scenes to film was the scene against the "cool" team with me behind the plate heckling each batter," he recalled. 

"Most of that was improvised that day. The director was in one of the dugouts and had a bullhorn. He was yelling all these insults for me to say and then I would say them. Half the time I would have a little chuckle first and then yell em out. Keeping a straight face was tough but DME was rolling the camera the whole time. This was 25 years ago and the film wasn't cheap then!"

Things were made more interesting by the fact that even before he landed the role he was a big fan of baseball and loved playing it dearly.

"I loved it. That was my favorite sport growing up. Our version of a Sandlot was stickball on a tennis court," he said.

The movie managed to have a major impact on him both personally and professionally.

"Personally, it has been an honor to be part of something like this. I have grown up seeing how many people responded favorably to this movie," he said. 

"Professionally actors try to create positive emotional experiences for audiences. So when you are part of a film that has done that in a big way it is very rewarding. I mean a lot of the credit, of course, goes to the writer/director since this was his vision, but there is a sense of pride knowing that a performance and character you created impacted people," he added. 

Throughout the movie, Patrick's character is quick with his witty statements, and not to forget, the insults he directed at other characters in the movie.

"The scene with me heckling the other batters was one of my favorites," he said before adding that "the S'more scene tops the list as well. Obviously, the insult scene going back and forth with Will was also a favorite." 

Despite being a cult classic now, there were many movies about baseball back then. So, what made this movie so special?

According to Patrick, "baseball holds a special place in America's heart, but it also wasn't just about baseball. It was about friendship and inclusion." He added, "It was about being young and living life in the world and not in front of a TV screen or iPad. I think these days that is an important message."

At the same time, Patrick recalled a particular scene from the movie in which the characters are seen chewing tobacco in order to celebrate their victory. To settle the curiosity of many viewers, Patrick revealed that they replaced tobacco with "Licorice and beef jerky" and according to Patrick, it just tastes "awful".

Meanwhile, he revealed that if he had a chance to meet Babe Ruth in real he would make sure that he watched the movie. 

In a scenario where many movies and shows are getting a reboot, Patrick believes it won't be right to remake the movie. 

"I don't think you can re-make this movie," he confessed.

"There are some that should just be left alone. I think you could make something based on characters or taking inspiration from the original. I actually am working on developing just that, but I don't think a "re-make" is the way to go." 

However, if it does happen, he would love for Milwaukee Brewers to play his role. While Patrick has done a wide variety of roles, he believes that his character of Ham will top the list of his favorites.

"I love the protector of the group aspect to him and his loyalty," he said. Call it ironic just like Patrick's character, who goes on to become a wrestler, the actor can be playing the same in his upcoming role in the hit television series 'Glow'.